Japan has re-opened its market to imports of British beef and lamb in a trade agreement expected to be worth £127 million (AUD $226 million) over the first five years of access – approximately £75 million (AUD $133m) for beef and £52 million (AUD $92m) for lamb.
On Friday Japan, a major importer of beef with a growing demand for high quality lamb, lifted its two-decade long ban on imports from the United Kingdom over BSE, with immediate effect.
Britain’s meat marketing organisation AHDB said the deal follows a year of global successes for UK exporters, which included China lifting its ban on UK beef, Taiwan opening its market to pork and India preparing to import UK sheep meat.
“The opening of the Japanese market is an excellent result for beef and lamb producers across the UK and demonstrates confidence in our high standards of food and drink,” UK Farming Minister George Eustice said.
“As we enter a new era as a global exporter, unlocking this market marks a major step for future trading relationships and signals our commitment to supporting our food and drink industry to export more British produce.”
The lifting of the ban follows a series of visits and negotiations between UK and Japanese officials, which culminated in an inspection of UK beef and lamb production systems in 2018, successfully hosted by Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland, DAERA, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the UK Export Certification Partnership.
Japan is renowned for its stringent food safety and import controls regime and opening this market is expected to send positive signals to other countries, particularly in Asia, regarding the safety of UK exports.
“Today’s announcement is fantastic news for our farmers and producers and it follows years of hard work by government, AHDB and key industry stakeholders,” AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said.
“Access to this lucrative new market is a testament to the high quality produce and world-renowned standards we have here in the UK. We are confident this new deal to export beef and lamb to Japan, alongside our existing pork trade, will create some exciting opportunities for our beef and sheep producers.”
NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said the regained access was a much needed boost for British beef and sheep producers.
“Currently 90pc of our sheep meat exports go to the EU so expanding our export portfolio is a hugely positive step. Japan will no doubt be a high value market which plays well with the high quality, traceable beef and lamb produced here.”
Benefits will be felt across the supply chain throughout the UK, with access particularly welcomed by beef producers in both Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Farmers and food producers can begin exporting as soon as the administrative listing process is completed.
Australian beef exports o Japan totalled 292,364 tonnes (2017 figures), worth A$2,011.7 million, while Australian sheepmeat exports totalled 12,820t, valued at $119 million.